[RPG] When is a monster/NPC considered dead


I am playing in a 5E campaign as a player and after a first few encounters there is something I don't quite get.

Do monsters/enemies follow the same death rules that are used for PCs (i.e. not dropping below 0, making death saving throws etc.) or does hitting zero hit points mean instant death for them?

The reason I ask is because our last fight was against a group of humans in a tavern (bandits, not regular patrons). It was short due to players rolling high damage, basically dispatching a group of enemies in two rounds.

Do we get to make Medicine ability rolls to stabilize the adversaries to be handed to the authorities or are they already finely chopped and reduced to ashes?

Best Answer

From Player's Basic pg 76

Most DMs have a monster die the instant it drops to 0 hit points, rather than having it fall unconscious and make death saving throws.

Mighty villains and special nonplayer characters are common exceptions; the DM might have them fall unconscious and follow the same rules as player characters.

Also, next section:

Sometimes an attacker wants to incapacitate a foe, rather than deal a killing blow. When an attacker reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack, the attacker can knock the creature out. The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt. The creature falls unconscious and is stable

So in general enemies die when you drop them to 0. Occasionally, a DM might want a villain that has the potential to pop back up and thus give them death saves (I'd recommend DMs tip this off somehow).

If you have need of an enemy after they are out, you can choose to drop them to 0 and have them be unconscious (technically, this only works with melee attacks, but really there's no reason to not allow it to work with all forms of attack).

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